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When to Test for Giftedness
Q: How can I tell if my child should be in a gifted program? I hear of other children who are in gifted programs at an early age, but my daughter's school does not even test until the third grade. Is it normal to wait so long for the opportunity for gifted program testing? I don't want to be an over aggressive, pushy parent, but on the other hand, I don't feel they challenge her in her class nearly to her capabilities.
A: Schools try to avoid labeling young children (K-3) so it is not unusual for gifted programs to start in third grade. This seems to be the point when the truly academically gifted can be distinguished from the children who caught onto the basics quickly.
If you believe that your young child is gifted, she probably is. Parents intuitively recognize giftedness in their young children through their observations of the child's words and actions, as well as interactions with other children.
It's time to talk to your daughter's teacher if your child is not learning anything new in class, seems bored rather than challenged by school, and is doing work way beyond her school level at home. After all, it is the object of school to help all children reach their full potential. When parents and teachers work together, appropriate programs can be developed so gifted children's needs can be met. It is helpful for parents to offer to assist their child's teacher by making or locating supplemental materials, helping in the classroom or library, offering expertise to small groups of students, or finding others who can provide enrichment experiences.
To be an effective parent of a gifted child, you must stay involved in your daughter's education and informed about gifted education in general. There are good resources for parents of gifted children on the National Association for Gifted Children website.
You can't assume that school will take care of all your child's needs. Spend time with your child to tune into her interests and respond by offering appropriate educational enrichment. Gifted children who are attracted to a particular area need opportunities to explore that field in depth. Home stimulation and support of interests are vital to the development of your daughter's talents.
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Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts are experienced teachers who have more than 60 educational publications to their credit. They began writing books together in 1979. Careers for Bookworms was a Book-of-the-Month Club paperback selection, and Pancakes, Crackers, and Pizza received recognition from the Children's Reading Roundtable. Gisler and Eberts taught in classrooms from kindergarten through graduate school. Both have been supervisors at the Butler University Reading Center.